We booked early, but it was already 95 degrees when we arrived for our kayak adventure on the Indian River near Cocoa Beach Florida. It was my sister’s maiden voyage in a kayak and only my second. We’d be out for two and a half hours and were promised sighting manatees and dolphins along the way – a long trip in the hot sun. I trusted our guide Genevieve who said it was totally doable for us. She instructed us in the basic rules of paddling and laws protecting the manatees – which pretty much boiled down to, “don’t touch.”
We dosed up on sunscreen, bananas, and bottled water before strapping on our life jackets and hauling our kayaks to the shoreline. On a small dock, Genevieve helped us climb into our kayaks and sent us gliding into the warm sun-speckled water. Once all six of our kayaks were boarded, someone spotted the first manatee and we headed in that direction. Ocean kayak adventure under way!
In the final 50 yards of our take out point, a pair of manatees surfaced along our kayaks. The other rowers had already left the water and it was just myself, my sister and Genevieve. We had been talking about our work lives and making those last minute connections when the sub surface ripple gave way to a steely grey body alongside my kayak. I could have reached down and petted the Manatee, but physical contact is illegal. The Manatee rolled down and surfaced right behind my sister’s canoe too! We both lingered there, paddles resting crosswise out of the water, waiting to see what the manatees would do. They swam around us, bumping us from underneath and surfacing briefly to breath. It was so awesome just to sit there floating – an interesting distraction to the “natives.” Finally, Genevieve had to leave for another tour and motioned us to the shore. We could have stayed there all day, but we knew others were waiting.